If you’re looking for a portable generator that can power a few appliances during a power outage or to take with you camping, the WEN 56203i may just be what you need.
The 2000 Watt generator allows you to power up to two small appliances or one large appliance, without sacrificing portability. It was also designed to be the quietest portable generator out there. Whether you’re into camping, tailgating, using power tools, or trying to keep your mini-fridge cold during a hurricane, this generator is worth checking out.
The WEN 56203i Inverter Generator
The WEN 56203i 2000-Watt portable generator weighs in at 40 pounds. It’s compact with an integrated handle making it easy to transport. While it’s a small generator, it comes with a bunch of different outlets for your convenience. There are two AC outlets for your house, one DC 12V cigarette lighter style outlet, and two 5V USB outlets for smaller electronics.
The generator also features parallel connect plugs. When using the WEN Parallel kit—sold separately—a second 56203i generator can be connected for double the power. The kit is equipped with a 120V twist-lock outlet to power your RV or larger appliances when two 56203i’s become one.
You’ll also get up to seven hours of run time on a 50% load. That’s pretty good for a one-gallon fuel tank. Included in their setup, WEN portable generator has an ECO-mode switch that allows this generator’s motor to adjust its fuel usage. This extends the engine’s life while also allowing it to run longer.
Features and Specs:
- Engine: 79 cc OHV 4-stroke
- Voltage: AC: 120V 60 Hz, DC: 12V
- Starting Watts: 2000W/Running Watts: 1700W
- Fuel Tank Size: 1 gallon
- Fuel type: gasoline
- Weight: 40.3 lbs
- Dimensions: 17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7 in
- AC outlets: 1x Duplex 120V 20A (5-20R) /DC outlets: 1x 12V 8A (cigarette lighter style) 2x 5V USB port
- Warranty: 2 years
What is an Inverter Generator?
All generators have an engine that’s connected to an alternator, similar to a car. This produces AC electricity, which provides power. An inverter functions as a rectifier, allowing the Direct Current (DC) to convert to an Alternating Current (AC).
Appliances and devices can’t handle a DC power supply. They need an inverter to regulate the power supply by converting the DC power to AC power, which is essentially taking the voltage down a notch to prevent your devices and appliances from frying.
So, an inverter generator is a power source that can power smaller devices and appliances by regulating the voltage.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Inverter Generator?
Inverter generators are convenient units that should ideally be a part of everyone’s home emergency kit.
They have the advantages of portability and fuel efficiency compared to conventional generators. They produce clean electricity, they run quietly, they have parallel capabilities for more power, and they can power multiple devices and appliances simultaneously.
Of course, inverter generators have their disadvantages as well. Since they’re typically gasoline-powered, they can emit Carbon Monoxide, so you can’t use them indoors. They also tend to be pricey, depending on the wattage offered. Speaking of wattage, inverter generators max out at around 4000 Watts, so they aren’t powerful enough for larger appliances, heavy-duty machinery, or your home.
In general, inverter generators are designed for RVs and outdoor activities such as camping and tailgating.
What Should I Look For in an Inverter Generator?
If an inverter generator is what you’re looking for, you want to make sure that you purchase a high-quality one (see the best inverter generators) with the features that suit your needs. Here’s what you need to look for in an inverter generator:
Power modes such as “boost” or “ECO/power-saving” mode are necessary features that help regulate the generator’s engine. Boost mode lets you surge power when needed, and ECO/power-saving mode allows your generator to run more efficiently while saving fuel. If the inverter generator you’re looking at doesn’t have these options, as in a mode switch, its engine may already be automatically regulated.
The higher the wattage, the heavier the generator. You want to make sure the generator you’re interested in provides maximum portability, i.e., wheels, handles, carts, and so on. 30-50 lbs may seem light, but if you’re carrying other things to your camp or worksite, the weight adds up.
Control Panel Features
Well-labeled outlets and switches are implied, or at least they should be. What you want to look for is a nice LCD screen that allows you to read input and output levels, shows the remaining battery life, and gives you an internal engine temperature read.
An indicator light is also a necessity. Your inverter generator should let you know when the battery is almost dead, the oil is low or needs changing, and most importantly—alerts you of CO emissions or has an automatic shut-off function in this situation. In addition to an indicator light, audible indicators for these things are a plus.
Inverter generators will always be much quieter than conventional generators. Of course, the noise level of one inverter generator will vary from the next. The noise is directly related to the size and wattage of the generator. However, other factors, such as the design, come into play as well.
You’ll want to check the decibels of the inverter generator and compare it to others as well as check out reviews regarding the noise level before purchasing. After all, you don’t want to upset the neighbors.
Not all inverter generators are created equally, even if two different brands have the same wattage. You want to make sure that you’re buying a generator that’s not only fuel-efficient but provides a decent run time on a 50% load. The runtime will also depend on the wattage, in most cases.
For a 2,000 Watt inverter generator, 7-12 hours of runtime is ideal.
Inverter Generator Maintenance
Like any gasoline-powered machine, an inverter generator needs a little TLC from time to time. Routine maintenance will keep your inverter generator running smoothly, safely, and extend its shelf-life. Here are a few maintenance tips for you to follow:
- Before doing any maintenance at all, be sure that your generator is powered off, the engine is completely cool, and all wires are disconnected. You also want to be sure that you’re in a well-ventilated area.
- Check the oil in your generator after each use. Top it off when necessary, and change the oil right after your first use.
- After the first-use oil change, change your generator’s oil every six months.
- Check the generator’s air filter before and after each use. Make sure you clean it every three months. To clean the air filter, wash it with warm water and dish detergent. Let it dry completely, and then dip it in an oil bath. Pat it down with a clean cloth to remove any excess oil and then put it back in the generator.
- Adjust and wipe the spark plugs every six months, and replace them every year.
- Using a wire brush, clean the spark arrestor every six months.
- Replace any parts that show signs of damage immediately
Keep in mind that most inverter generators are designed for outdoor use. However, they may not be equipped with protection, i.e., GFCI outlets. Be aware of the weather conditions while using your inverter generator. Keep it out of direct sunlight, away from fire, and out of the rain. High moisture and humidity can affect it as well.
It’s also important to remember that gasoline is corrosive and breaks down over time. If you’re not going to use your generator for a while, make sure that the fuel tank is empty.
Running Generators in Parallel
Many portable inverter generators have parallel connection capacity. What this means is that you can hook up multiple generators to each other to produce more power for your RV, campsite, or job site.
The reasoning behind this feature is that portable inverter generators are made lightweight and compact. You don’t want to lug around a 100+ lb generator, so to make up for the lack of power, you have the parallel connection in case you’re with others who have a similar portable inverter generator.
You can purchase two generators for yourself as well, so you have the option for more power. Just be sure to purchase a parallel connection kit that’s compatible with you and your friends’ inverter generators. Otherwise, the parallel connection won’t work.
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